Author Archives: Michael Young

Lebanon – Wealth or war

Lebanon – Wealth or war

This month Lebanon commemorates the second anniversary of the July-August 2006 war, and moreover, the dilemma it created for the country. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt defined that dilemma more than a decade ago as being a choice between Hanoi and Hong Kong; in other words, between Lebanon as a haven for open-ended resistance and militancy,

Liberty – and its interpretation

Over the past years, Capitalist Culture has been a regular feature of Executive, so what better occasion than this 100th anniversary issue to look back at the column, and more particularly at the themes it has tried to raise in looking at Lebanon and the Middle East. A persistent aim of Capitalist Culture has been

The Switzerland of the Middle East?

Lebanon has often been referred to as the “Switzerland of the Middle East,” a line once taken seriously until the 1975-1990 war brought on howls of laughter whenever that cliché was uttered. Fair enough. Lebanon is no Switzerland, and even its snow-capped mountains look different. Instead of pastoral tales of “Heidi”, the country can tell

Rule of law – and the election

One aspect of any form of capitalist culture — a culture of openness, cosmopolitanism, free minds and free markets — is the rule of law. With September 25 set as the date for parliament to meet and elect a new president, the rule of law, as embodied in Lebanon’s supreme legal document, the Constitution, is

The Information debate

In July, a controversy erupted when two Israel journalists traveling under foreign passports came to Lebanon to report on the country a year after the summer 2006 war. The pair, Lisa Goldman and Rinat Malkes, was taken to task by Nour Samaha of the Daily Star, who wrote that the journalists “not only broke Lebanese

Like everywhere, Money talks in Lebanon

Four months into the opposition’s descent on the Soliderearea in protest, it is increasingly plain that the effortwas a remarkable success. No, the Seniora government is notabout to fall, nor has the Hariri tribunal been permanentlyderailed; rather, the opposition has scored a dazzlingvictory against businesses in the downtown area. Most havebeen knocked out cold financially,

Goodbye, but not good riddance

For some people, the humiliation of Paul Wolfowitz, who atthe end of this month will step down as president of theWorld Bank after allegedly showing favoritism for his femalecompanion, Shaha Ali Reza, was his second defeat at thehands of the Middle East. The interpretation is tendentious,but it’s true that Wolfowitz paid the price in Washingtonfor

The battle for downtown: Solidere symbolizes much

Little has excited the Lebanese in recent months, thoughmuch has contributed to their anxiety. However, it was onenews item in February that seemed to hit public moralehardest. From an initial figure of around 250 establishmentsin the downtown area, we learned that around 80 had closeddue to the ongoing sit-in by opposition supporters. A 30%closure rate

A step back for freedom? US must choose

Amid all the hoopla over how the United States should conduct its war in Iraq, very little attention has been paid to what looked like a good idea when President George W. Bush first sought to justify his invasion of Iraq: the spread of democracy to the people of the Middle East. Indeed, in recent

Battling Over Beirut

The nature of the crisis between the government and opposition that began in early December was recognizable thanks to the nature of the battlefield: Beirut’s downtown area, the jewel in the crown of the late Rafik Hariri’s reconstruction program, and premier symbol of the capital’s conceit to be a cosmopolitan business center for the region.